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Author Topic: Debian on a non-dev-kit SheevaPlug?  (Read 3709 times)
jtolds
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« on: November 28, 2010, 07:46:21 PM »

Hello,

Recently, I bought a TonidoPlug computer. I was pretty excited by Tonido's marketing (fail), and told myself that if for some reason I didn't like the actual Tonido software that came with the plug computer, it was a SheevaPlug after all (I only had minor familiarity at the time), and I could just install Debian.

What I didn't know, and what the plugcomputer.org wiki really does not do well to make clear, is that most Debian installation instructions require dev-kit SheevaPlugs, or at least, SheevaPlugs with a serial console.

So, I don't have a SheevaPlug with a serial console, but it seems to me that I should still be able to install Debian (lenny, squeeze, or something) without the serial console. The non-dev-kit SheevaPlug still clearly boots from USB if possible (I reflashed my TonidoPlug's OS with a TonidoPlug usb stick image), and the SqueezePlug guy got something working, but Martin Michlmayr says my plug is essentially not supported (http://www.cyrius.com/debian/kirkwood/sheevaplug/plugs.html)

Here's what I want to know. Without touching a serial console, how much can I do? Can I reflash UBoot? (Though, I don't much care what UBoot version is running cause I can't interact with it.) Can I install Debian for the TonidoPlug (or really, any non-dev-kit SheevaPlug) on a USB disk and have it boot it? Can I install Debian to the plug's flash memory (preferred)?

I'm a pretty paranoid guy, so I'm not looking for a premade image. In fact, the reason I'm not just sticking with the provided Ubuntu 8.whatever distro is that I'm worried about trusting my near-1TB of personal data to some crazy company's idea of a pre-installed operating system. Tonido doesn't give much cause to trust them (their application service stack, which I am incredibly unimpressed with, runs as root. Amateur hour.). So, I'm looking for preferably debootstrap instructions (or similar) that don't require any serial console interaction. Is it possible to set up a network-supporting Debian environment in some chroot on USB and have the Tonido boot it?

Again, pretty sure this isn't a crazy request. It's theoretically possible, just wondering what the difficulty is. Most of these HOWTOs make assumptions about having serial console access, and are also sort of outdated.

-JT
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cjm
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« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2010, 12:50:08 PM »

If you know that the uboot configuration will boot from USB disks (you can check this with tools that read the uboot configuration from the running Ubuntu installation), you could copy a bootstrap image to a USB disk and make sure the kernel and ramdisk images are stored in the correct place with the correct names (uImage and uInitrd most likely); check the script "flash-kernel" to see how this is usually done on Debian installations. Bootstrap images can be found on Martin's page. Make sure you patch the "flash-kernel" script correctly to prevent it from accidentally flashing the kernel to NAND as it would do on QNAP devices, for example.

You may also want to check whether you can find a serial header or pins to solder the serial cable to. A cheap and working cable that uses 5V on the serial port side and provides a USB/serial port adapter on the computer side is labeled CA-42; I used it on my NSLU2. For example (sorry, the page is in German):

http://www.conrad.de/ce/de/product/763458/USB-DATENKABEL-NOKIA-BGL-CA-41/SHOP_AREA_37376&promotionareaSearchDetail=005

The serial header may also be a USB port in disguise -- don't know the TonidoPlug good enough to tell.

Thanks,
--Christian
« Last Edit: November 29, 2010, 12:56:23 PM by cjm » Logged

jtolds
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« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2010, 10:31:38 PM »

Hm, not sure how to tell what my uboot configuration is. No one on this thread (http://plugcomputer.org/plugforum/index.php?topic=117.0) seems to know what the uboot-envtools config should be for a SheevaPlug (the suggested configs erroneously conclude I'm set up to boot from NFS), and the nanddump output I'm providing to this guy's code (https://code.google.com/p/sheeva-uboot-tools/) is barfing on "too many errors in block #0 of chunk #0"

I'm going to just go ahead and assume it's set up correctly, and who knows, maybe it will work. Thanks for the pointers.

FWIW, the TonidoPlug is simply a standard SheevaPlug without the JTAG (I guess?) connection.
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cjm
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« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2010, 12:53:32 AM »

You might want to try sheeva-uboot-tools, they work for me. You can search the forum for them.

Newer hardware releases such as the GuruPlug use different checksum methods for uboot but if the TonidoPlug is based on standard Sheevaplugs, sheeva-uboot-tools should work at least for reading the configuration. Not sure if I would try to change the uboot configuration with those tools, though -- might be a bit risky.

Thanks,
--Christian
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cjm
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« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2010, 01:25:46 AM »

Sorry, just realized you already tried sheeva-uboot-tools. Your plug may have the different checksum method for the configuration. Have you checked this thread:

http://plugcomputer.org/plugforum/index.php?topic=117.15

Thanks,
--Christian
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